Queensland Industrial Manslaughter Conviction


On 25 March 2022 , Jeffrey Owen was sentenced to five years jail, suspended having served 18 months imprisonment,  over a workplace incident in which his friend was crushed to death by a falling generator being moved with a forklift  from the back of a truck.

The prosecution, conviction and jail sentence are the first of an individual for an offence under Queensland’s industrial manslaughter laws (Section 34C of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011).

The offence occurred at Owen’s Electric Motor Rewinds in Gympie. The business, operated by Mr Owen, involved the repair and maintenance of electrical items, including generators.

  • A Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigation revealed that on 3 July 2019 a generator was delivered on a flatbed truck and a friend of Owen helped him unload the generator.
  • The defendant used a forklift to remove the generator from the back of the truck, but it fell from the fork arms and landed on his friend.
  • The court heard:
    • Mr Owen was not licenced to operate a forklift
    • The business he ran had no documented health and safety procedures, in particular, procedures for using the forklift to unload heavy equipment.
    • The forklift had a lifting capacity that was inadequate for its use in unloading the generator.
    • That safe, alternative methods of unloading the generator were available at low cost.

Judge Cash took into account Owen had had no prior convictions, was remorseful and had subsequently put in place all necessary procedures and that his friend had put himself in harm’s way, but it did not relieve the defendant of his responsibility.

The Workplace Health and Safety Queensland media release is here

Commentary on the case from Minter Ellison is here


Forgot Password?

Join Us